When renowned singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell penned her hit song ‘Both Sides, Now’ in the late 1960s, the east coast of England was almost certainly the last thing on her mind.
Mitchell, of course, used the varied and varying formations of clouds as an evocative metaphor for the vagaries of life and love, but for connoisseurs of the real thing, Anderby Creek in Lincolnshire is the ideal location for spotting everything from a cracking cumulus to a striking stratus.
As well as boasting a seemingly endless stretch of soft golden sand, Anderby Creek, near the charming village of Sutton-on-Sea, has been home to the quirky Cloud Bar, the world’s first cloud observation platform, since 2009.
Sunshine and cirrus
However, as luck would have it, we were blessed with brilliant sunshine on the day that we visited Anderby Creek, so we couldn’t put our new-found knowledge to the test, although I did at least manage to identify a sketchy cirrus formation high overhead in the clear blue sky.
Despite its name, this particular bar doesn’t sell alcohol, but it does offer visitors a uniquely heady experience, thanks to the collection of rotatable convex mirrors pointing skyward, and the special ‘cloud menu’ that helps you to identify exactly what it is that you’re looking at.
And if you’re unfortunate enough to visit on a rainy day, there’s a shelter and a bench beneath the platform, which will shield you from the worst of the elements.
We headed there on the first day of our short break in the Lincolnshire Wolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty renowned for its gently rolling hills, ancient woodlands, and green byways and bridleways, all unfolding under big, often generously clouded, skies.
This is the perfect place to indulge in leisurely walking and cycling, whatever the weather might throw at you. It is also easily accessible from our home in the Peak District, a fairly straightforward 2.5-hour journey travelling via Chesterfield, Worksop, Retford and Gainsborough.
Our base for the break was Walesby Woodlands Caravan Park, on the outskirts of Market Rasen, on the fridge of the Wolds yet not too far from the sea, thus combining the very best of coastline and countryside in this lovely part of the world.
Our route to Anderby took us on a scenic tour through the Wolds, past the pleasant village of North Willingham, Ludford and South Elkington, skirting the thriving market town of Louth and along the coast via bustling Mablethorpe and the rather more sedate Sutton-on-Sea.
Quiet stretch of sand
The beach at Anderby Creek is both family- and dog-friendly, so we were able to enjoy a long walk with our lively Dalmatioan, meeting other dog-owners and their pets along the shore.
It’s also one of the quietest stretches of sand on this popular coastline, but it does pay to remember that the tidal range here is high and the tide comes in very quickly, so care is needed, depending on the time of day or year.
Back at Anderby itself, Anderby Beach Café, opposite the free car park (part of which has a height barrier), is a very popular lunch stop, and in fine weather, its secluded garden with outdoor seating is busy with customers of all ages.
There’s a designated play area for the children, dogs are welcome on leads and it’s licensed, so you can enjoy an ice-cold beer or glass of chilled wine with your sandwich or salad.
River and sea
On our second day, the weather remained equally clement, so we decided that we would head for another coastal destination – Saltfleet, just north of Mablethrope, where the aptly named River Eau meets the North Sea.
This time, our route skirted around Louth once more, afterwards taking us across the lush, fertile marshlands peppered by pretty villages, such as North Thoresby, North Somercotes and Marshchapel. This is an area with a long history – as far back as 1281, Saltfleet was a thriving port exporting salt and wool to the Low Countries and importing cloth and wine that was destined for Louth, Lincoln and the surrounding settlements. It was also a popular jaunt for smugglers.
Its 17th-century, grade II listed New Inn was once on the coast, but century’s later, the beach beyond has expanded to such an extent, these days it’s half a mile inland.
Backed by sand dunes, this truly beautiful area is now managed by Natural England in partnership with Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. Access to the car park we stopped at is via an unsurfaced, bumpy track, so you might want to try another alternative!
At low tide it’s an enjoyable walk to the sea, and it’s rarely busy, even at the height of the summer season. Beyond the sand dunes is an area of mudflats, where we spotted the dark green shoots of samphire.
Like Anderby Creek, Saltfleet’s delightful beach is dog-friendly, but it’s much vaster, giving the impression of crossing a desert rather than being so near the sea. On the day we visited in June, we encountered only four other beachcombers during our long and pleasant walk, despite the positively Mediterranean weather.
Returning to Louth via Saltfleerby All Saints and Saltfleetby St Peter, we decided to take an impromptu walking tour around the town, with its weather of family-run food shops, including a well-stocked greengrocer, specialist butchers and bakers, and an award-winning cheese shop.
Known as the Capital of the Wolds, Louth is home to an impressive array of elegant Georgian and Victorian architecture – and well worth exploring. Its skyline boasts the tallest medieval spire in the UK, at St James’ Church.
On our final day, we decided to test one of the many walks accessible form our campsite, a very gentle, six-mile stroll along part of the north loop of the Lindsay Trail, taking in woodlands, quiet roads, a bridle path and verdant byways.
The site facilities block includes a comprehensive selection of printed hiking routes for all ages and abilities, ranging from the family-friendly Rasen Round to nearby Willingham Woods and the more challenging long-distance Viking Way.
Our walk began in the woods of Walesby Moor and took us across the railway line at Nova Scotia Bridge to Middle Rasen Plantation, before making a right-hand turn along Moor Road to the pretty village of Walesby.
Tiny as it is, the village has two churches, St Mary’s in the centre, and All Saints – also known as the Ramblers’ Church – on our route, taking in part of the Viking Way.
As you ascend to All Saints, bumps in the ground indicate the remains of the medieval settlement; the churchyard is now sensitively managed with wildlflowers in mind. Emerging into a field beyond, we unexpectedly came across a regal-looking herd of red deer, which seemed fascinated by, rather than frightened of, our lively spotty dog on a lead!
Following the Viking Way towards Risby Manor Farm, our vantage point offered us sweeping views of the farmland, woods and Market Rasen beyond – a little tamer than the panoramas we are used to back home, but nonetheless attractive.
From the farm, a bridleway took us over Risby Moor to cross Rasen Road and return to our site via Manor Plantation and a green byway.
Back at base, the BookStop Café, a mobile version of the eponymous café to be found on Lincoln’s Steep Hill, was a welcome sight, offering tea and coffee, sandwiches, cakes and scones – a quality option for lunch.
A trip to the cinema
On the final evening of our visit, we decided to treat ourselves to an experience with a difference – a trip to the Kinema in the Woods at Woodhall Spa, originally built in the late 19th century as a sports and entertainment pavilion.
First used as a cinema in 1922, this enchanting venue houses the magnificent Compton Kinestra organ and an exhibition showcasing the long history of the silver screen.
Rather appropriately, given that we had been staying at Market Rasen, which has its very own racecourse, we saw the film Dream Horse.
This charming feel good story of a plucky horse that went on to win the Welsh Grand National provided a fitting end to our all-too-brief break.
Where we stayed
Walesby Woodlands Caravan Park
- Walesby Road, Market Rasen, LN8 3UN
- Tel 01673 842 353
- Web walesbywoodlands.co.uk
- Pitches 59, plus tent camping
- Open All year
- Charges (pitch+2+hook-up) £22
Situated amid lush farmland and woods near Market Rasen, the site is perfectly placed for exploring the Lincolnshire Wolds and the coastline.
The campsite is landscaped with mature trees and gardens, and offers well-maintinaed, centrally heated facilities. There is a mix of grass and hardstanding pitches, Wi-Fi is available, and there is also a handy on-site café and launderette.
Situated on Cycle Route One and the Lindsay Trail, the site offers access to miles of cycling and walking routes, many off-road, and its tranquil location is ideal for visitors keen to relax and watch the world go by.
Food and Drink
Find Out More
- Love Lincolnshire Wolds
- The Cloud Bar
- Anderby Beach Café
- The Lindsay Trail
- The Viking Way
- The BookStop Café
- Kinema in the Woods
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The beach at Anderby Creek is both family- and dog-friendly, so we were able to enjoy a long walk with our lively Dalmatioan, meeting other dog-owners and their pets along the shore